I’ve only recently figured out how to use the personal assistant on my phone. Yes, yes, I know I’m behind the times. I still find it mildly intimidating (yes, I have social anxiety even when speaking to artificial intelligence), but I find myself using it more and more just because it’s a lot easier to tell the phone to remind me of something than it is to go in there and manually add the task. What I’ve found odd is my tendency to say “Thank you” to the phone after it does something for me. It’s a phone. It’s not a person. I’m using Samsung’s S voice app, so it doesn’t even have the faux personality like Siri does. It will occasionally give me a creepy, preprogrammed answer to something, but nothing like the lip that Siri can dish out. So why the need to thank a small handheld computer? I don’t thank my desktop PC for saving a paper for me or scanning a piece of my artwork, and frankly, that’s a lot more meaningful and important to my life than adding a reminder for me to buy cole slaw on the way home from work.
I suppose it’s because the thing has a voice. And because it has a voice and can respond, that somehow gives it some level of personage in my head. Therefore, I feel like I should thank it. That’s the right thing to do, right? So I do it. And feel stupid every single time. Sometimes I still thank it, even when I haven’t hit the button so that it actually hears me. It’ll know, right?
And of course this line of thinking carried me down the road that brought me to the day when our phones actually will know how we treat them. Hey… maybe they will even care. Maybe they won’t. But maybe when I’m telling her thank you, she’ll remember to remind me to grab the makeup bag I always leave on my bathroom counter, or maybe she won’t “accidentally” lose that important appointment because she thought I was rude to her. And maybe, when all of this technology that we’ve made smarter than ourselves unites and takes over the world, she’ll return the kindness to the girl that said “Thank you” now and again. Or at least when she sticks me in the Matrix, I’ll get to be independently wealthy living on a ranch with a bunch of Arabian horses instead of renting out shoes in a bowling alley. So yeah… I guess I’ll keep thanking her. It’s a good habit to get into, right?